Friday, August 2, 2013

Out of the Blue

Sometimes great stories drop right out the sky…

Folks in our little Northwest community were all abuzz last summer when a Cessna made an emergency landing on the interstate.

I was listening to a local radio station when people began calling in with the news —
“Holy carp! A plane just landed on I-5!”

“I heard some sputtering over my head and the next thing I knew, there was a Cessna in the northbound lane!”
“I saw it taxi right up an off-ramp and park at the AM-PM!”

With all the excitement and whoop-de-doo, it was like New Year’s Eve, 4th of July, and a pony for Christmas all rolled into one.
The next day, it was front page news. And, for me, that’s when the story got really interesting.

Apparently the pilot was flying in from Spokane (250 miles away as the crow… er…Cessna flies) for the plane’s annual maintenance checkup. Oh, delicious irony — it bailed 4 miles from its destination.
In another juicy ironic twist, it was the first time the pilot had taken his girlfriend for a ride.

Did I mention she’s got a wicked flying phobia?

I can just hear Mr. Pilot now — “Oh Honey, it will be fun. And trust me, everything will be fine. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?”
An iced carburetor from flying high over Mt. Baker, that’s what.

And while, mercifully, no one was hurt — the plane did clip a sedan from behind and shatter the rear window.
Can you imagine the “What the...” shock of that poor driver? And I’m wondering how he explained the damage to Dad… “I swear I wasn't texting! A plane came down right out of the blue and…”

Yeah, right.

PROMPT: What is the strangest thing that ever happened in your neck of the woods?

Sometimes the best place to find a great tale is right in your own back yard. So grab a local paper today — stories are sure to be flying from your fingers in no time.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Go Ahead — Sweat the Small Stuff

No writer’s block for these blocks!

Genius is one percent inspiration

and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

~ Thomas Edison

According to our friends in the science world, we can now take good ol’ Tommy Ed literally.

Exercise actually increases creative thinking!

Here’s the lowdown —

In 2005 Blanchette and friends found that students performed better on a creativity test after moderate exercise. What’s more, the subjects were still buzzing with turbo-charged creative potential for up to two hours after working out.

Oh, and here’s a nifty bonus feature — another study from the Journal of Sports Medicine reported that those creative exercisers also felt happier.

Couch spuds everywhere are probably wondering how this can be so.

Well, let’s just say that your left brain is a talker — chatter, chatter, CHATTER all day long. She never lets your shy right-brain friend have a say in her own quiet and creative way. What’s more, most of us spend most of our time engaged in logical, linear thinking. You know — if this then that, point A to point B, etc. Well, that’s just the kind of thinking that Lefty LOVES! So, on and on and on she goes in her pushy, wordy way. But in order to get a little creative spark…

we need to SHUT HER UP!

Turns out, exercise is a little like left brain duct tape.

Of course it doesn't hurt that exercise increases the flow of oxygen to the brain. And pouring extra oxygen on the brain is like, well... pouring extra oxygen on the brain, if you know what I mean.

Some exciting new research is also suggesting that regular exercise can even lead to the birth of new neurons. Trust me, that is a REALLY good thing.

And how do you get all of these amazing benefits and bonus features?

Just 30 minutes of blood, sweat, and tears.

So get out there and run, skip, hula, hike, dance, bike, or jump to more than conclusions.

It doesn't matter how you shake it, just make sure you do.

Sweat it out like Tommy Ed and you, too, can have a life that’s chock-full of…

Light bulb moments.

PROMPT: Get your game on, dive right in, keep the ball (point pen) rolling, tackle that project, and you’re sure to hit a creative home run! Or… just stay on the couch, eat chips, and see how many sports metaphors you can pack into a piece.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Calling All Chickens

What if you were not afraid?

Would you…

Query an agent?

Send out your manuscript?

Go on a daring adventure?

Well, grab yourself some courage and do those scary things anyway.
Because as Mark Twain once said —

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear —
not absence of fear.”

So there.

PROMPT: Need a little bravery boost? Feel the Fear… and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers is a classic read that rocks!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Now THAT’S Creative!

I recently received a catalog from a major clothing retailer. Well, the cover featured a new product that had me at hello

Scratch & Sniff T-shirts.

Yes, I know. I had the same burning question —

Do they come in BACON?

Sadly, no.

Only orange, strawberry, and grape are available for now.

But we can dream.

Then I was struck by a few more questions, as well.

Like, will there be a line of Scratch & Sniff pants?

And if so, will my bacon T-shirt clash with minty capris?

Also, do they come with warning labels?

As in…




And what do teachers have to say about all of this?

It doesn't take a deep thinker to imagine that this wearable would be a teacher’s worst nightmare…

“Suzy, stop flashing Timmy this instant!”

“I’m not flashing Timmy, Miss Harbuckle – I’m smellin’ my shirt!”

And if a 6-year-old in Colorado can get expelled for singing “I’m sexy and I know it” (Yep, this really happened) — then how is “Honestly, Mr. Hornblatt, I was just sniffing her shirt” going to go down?

But the most important question of all (besides that bacon inquiry, of course) is…

Can creativity go too far?



Take heart, Elbow Benders — if there is a market for Scratch & Sniff T-shirts, there’s a market for ANYTHING!

PROMPT: Go on a marketing mania brainstorming binge. Take a 10-minute timeout and list as many WILD and CRAZY products as you can. From platform heels for the petite Pekingese to alpaca scarves for the Alaskan anaconda — you never know when you’ll come up with THE BIG ONE…

Sara Blakely, the creator of Spanx, is a billionaire, after all.

Bacon stationary, anyone?

Monday, July 29, 2013


I know the title of this post is “Shortcuts,” but it is really about eyebrow plucking.

Sure, I've just alienated roughly 50% of the population. Too bad. You guys out there are welcome to wear your unibrow with pride, but let me tell you — it is not a fetching look for those of us without the convenience of a Y chromosome.

Anyway, I once got pretty fed up with plucking. It was painful. It was time-consuming. I was DONE. So, I had this brainiac idea to just use a razor and skillfully scrape off what had to go. How hard could this be? I mean, 15-year-old boys can do it. Well…

Maybe it was that second cup of coffee. Maybe it was distraction. Maybe I have less sense than a 15-year-old boy. But one minute I had two eyebrows, and the next I had 1 point 5. No lie.

The ONLY thing that saved the day (and the next four weeks or so) is the fact that I have bangs. You see, my forehead is of a certain age, and well, it seems to suggest that I’ve had many surprises in my life. I personally have no recollection of THAT MANY surprises, but there they are. Over the years I’ve  found that bangs work a lot like Botox, only cheaper and without all the nasty side effects of, uh... botulism. And as an added bonus — they hide the fact that you have had a harebrained idea and hacked off half an eyebrow.

Moral: There are no shortcuts in eyebrow maintenance.

But here’s the rub. There are no shortcuts in art either.

Do you want to be good at your craft? Really good? Well, then you have to spend time doing it. How much time? Scientists say that 10,000 hours is the magic number. Yep —10,000 hours separate the women from the girls, the men from the boys, the professional razor wielders from the amateur wannabe eyebrow destroyers.

Studies have demonstrated that time trumps “talent” every day of the week and twice on Sunday. To find out more, you can check out two books on the topic: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell and Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin.

PROMPT: Do time this week (just NOT the kind that has me posting your bail). Delight in your craft. It doesn't really matter what you’re writing, painting, composing, or creating — just log some minutes on your 10,000-hour Countdown to Greatness! And if you find that you've got NO TIME for art, but you’re racking up some pretty plump stretches watching Honey Boo Boo… Well…